Middle East

U.N. calls out Bulgaria on refugees

File - Syrian refugees look through a window inside a refugee centre as they wait for a distribution of humanitarian aid by volunteers of the Bulgarian Red Cross in Sofia December 17, 2013. (REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov)

GENEVA: European countries must stop returning asylum seekers to Bulgaria due to risks of “degrading” mistreatment there, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday, as Sofia struggles with an influx from war-torn Syria.

“Asylum-seekers in Bulgaria face a genuine risk of inhuman or degrading treatment due to systemic deficiencies in reception conditions and asylum procedures,” said Babar Baloch, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

As a result, he said, the UNHCR wants a three-month suspension of applying rules in Bulgaria that require asylum seekers to be sent back to the first European country they arrived in.

Baloch said the U.N. agency had found “deplorable” conditions, such as lack of food and health care and arbitrary detention.

He also flagged concerns that Bulgaria had actively stopped refugees from crossing into the country.

Baloch said Bulgaria had made efforts to improve the situation, but that there were gaps between stated policies and the real situation.

“These gaps have worsened with the increase in the numbers of asylum seekers arriving in recent months, particularly those fleeing the conflict in Syria,” he noted.

Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest country, has found itself grossly unprepared to cope with an influx of thousands of refugees and has repeatedly appealed to other countries to share the burden.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 04, 2014, on page 10.




Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (

comments powered by Disqus



Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here